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Rehabilitating Guantánamo’s torture victims

It is extremely unlikely that President Obama will be able to fulfill his promise of closing Guantánamo before leaving office, but he can still take action to mitigate this national stain. Torture causes profound harm to human beings, families, and communities. We cannot undo the torture that was committed on scores of men — but we can do the right thing now: We can provide the medical, psychological, and social supports these survivors need to heal.

This positive step will not only protect our national security by reducing the likelihood that released prisoners will act against our interests, but also will begin to restore the reputation of our country as a human rights protector — a distinction that has been shattered by our use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in the war on terror.…  Seguir leyendo »

Estados Unidos, hoy, tiene más de dos millones de reclusos. Entre ellos no se contabilizan los 137 que quedan en la prisión de Guantánamo, como ninguno de los que les antecedieron en la misma. Seguramente aquellos presos oficiales no sufrirán las técnicas de tortura que han padecido los denominados enemigos encerrados en una isla de impunidad bajo el Programa de Rendición, Detención e Interrogatorio, creado por George W. Bush, el 17 de septiembre del 2001 y que permitió a la CIA desarrollar métodos como el waterboarding (ahogamiento simulado), walling (golpear contra el muro), humillaciones y violencia sexual, golpes, amenazas de muerte, privación de sueño, “hidratación y alimentación rectal”, entre otras, en forma sistemática, hasta el cierre de ese siniestro programa en el 2009 por orden del presidente Obama, quien, sin embargo, no exigió al fiscal general que abriera ninguna investigación pero sí pidió “comprensión” para los torturadores.…  Seguir leyendo »

El candidato a la presidencia de los Estados Unidos Barack Obama se fijó en Guantánamo para visibilizar el cambio que prometía, por eso, al día siguiente de su toma de posesión anunció el cierre de ese extraño lugar, declarando ilegal la tortura que allí se practicaba. Era un gesto ético que debía devolver la confianza de sus conciudadanos en los valores humanitarios sobre los que se había construido el país y que había que mantener "también en tiempos difíciles".

Pero la ética tiene sus exigencias. Hay una ética complaciente que interpreta el crimen o la tortura como atentados a la moralidad de la ley, de suerte que bastaría ajustar la ley a los derechos humanos para que todo quedara sanado.…  Seguir leyendo »

On a bright sunny day two years ago, President George W. Bush strode into the East Room of the White House and informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured terrorists.

“In addition to the terrorists held at Guantánamo,” the president said, “a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.”

At these places, Mr. Bush said, “the C.I.A. used an alternative set of procedures.” He added: “These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations.…  Seguir leyendo »

"I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America doesn't torture, and I'm going to make sure that we don't torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America's moral stature in the world."

That unequivocal passage from President-elect Barack Obama's first extended interview since the election, broadcast on "60 Minutes" Sunday night, was a big step toward healing the damage that the Bush administration has done not just to our nation's image but to its soul.

Amid the excitement of the election and the urgency of the economic crisis, it has been easy to lose sight of the terrorism-related "issues" that defined George W.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Mariano Aguirre, director del área de Paz, Seguridad y Derechos Humanos de FRIDE (EL CORREO DIGITAL, 04/04/07):

El Tribunal Supremo de Estados Unidos acaba de rechazar que los alrededor de 400 detenidos en la prisión de Guantánamo (Cuba) tengan derecho a ser juzgados por la justicia ordinaria. De este modo permanecerán sin derecho al 'habeas corpus', sometidos a juicios sumarios, posiblemente a coacciones físicas y sin estar acusados formalmente de ninguna causa. La medida del Tribunal supone una victoria para el Gobierno de George W. Bush y para los que propugnan que la tortura y los juicios sumarios son necesarios en la guerra contra el terrorismo.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Eugene Robinson (THE WASHINGTON POST, 03/04/07):

Here's what the Bush administration has done to the values, traditions and honor of the United States of America: An accused terrorist claims he confessed to heinous crimes so that agents of the U.S. government would stop torturing him, and no one is shocked or even surprised. There's reason to believe, in fact, that what the suspect says about torture is probably true.

There's also reason to doubt that the suspect -- Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, held in U.S. custody without charges for more than four years -- is the Zelig-like innocent bystander he claims to be.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Slavoj Zizek, filósofo esloveno y autor, entre otros libros, de Irak. La tetera prestada. Traducción de M. L. Rodríguez Tapia (EL PAÍS, 27/03/07)

Después de que la confesión de Jalid Sheik Mohammed saltara a los titulares de nuestros medios de comunicación, junto a la indignación moral por la dimensión de sus crímenes surgieron las dudas: ¿podíamos fiarnos de su confesión? ¿Y si estaba confesando más de lo que había hecho, quizá por un vano deseo de ser recordado como el gran cerebro terrorista, o porque estaba dispuesto a confesar lo que fuera con tal de que dejaran de someterle a la tabla de agua y otras "técnicas mejoradas de interrogación"?…  Seguir leyendo »

Slavoj Zizek, the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, is the author, most recently, of “The Parallax View” (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24/03/07)

Since the release of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s dramatic confessions, moral outrage at the extent of his crimes has been mixed with doubts. Can his claims be trusted? What if he confessed to more than he really did, either because of a vain desire to be remembered as the big terrorist mastermind, or because he was ready to confess anything in order to stop the water boarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques”?

If there was one surprising aspect to this situation it has less to do with the confessions themselves than with the fact that for the first time in a great many years, torture was normalized — presented as something acceptable.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Naomi Klein (THE GUARDIAN, 23/02/07):

Something remarkable is going on in a Miami courtroom. The cruel methods US interrogators have used since September 11 to "break" prisoners are finally being put on trial. This was not supposed to happen. The Bush administration's plan was to put José Padilla on trial for allegedly being part of a network linked to international terrorists. But Padilla's lawyers are arguing that he is not fit to stand trial because he has been driven insane by the government.

Arrested in May 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare airport, Padilla, a Brooklyn-born former gang member, was classified as an "enemy combatant" and taken to a navy prison in Charleston, South Carolina.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Vikram Dodd (THE GUARDIAN, 12/01/07):

It would be the ideal spot for a beachside birthday party. Surrounded by a turquoise sea, palm trees and white sand, the US detention camp at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba was five years old yesterday. Tony Blair calls it an "anomaly", but the evidence is overwhelming. Camp Delta, which still houses 470 men never convicted of any crime, is a torture camp. That should be the starting point of any debate about what is acceptable in the west's fight with Islamist extremists. More than 750 men have passed through the camp, with nearly half being released.…  Seguir leyendo »